Saturday, December 24, 2005


Poem sent to me by a friend:

Philip Larkin 1922-1980

This Be the Verse (title)

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

The poem I had sent that person:

Edwin Arlington Robinson. 1869–

Richard Corey

WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

The Larkin poem: I had never read it. I've felt that way, recognizing defects of mine that stemmed from my parents. (Eg, eagerness to impress others.) But recognizing the defects is a first step toward ameliorating them -- even if that does sound sappy.

As for Richard Corey: The point o the poem is that the rich and the privileged can be depressed, just as you and I. I had thought, a while back, that it meant: The conventional life can be painfully boring. Various interpretations are possible, and they can be perfectly acceptable. My recent interpretation: He was ashamed of his homosexual impulses.

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